Lancaster’s first resident Zen Buddhist has come to the city in a bid to help others learn meditation.
Rev Jitei White also hopes that eventually a Zen temple might be set up in the city.
Jitei is a Zen Buddhist Priest in the Soto Zen Lineage. He has been a practising Buddhist for 35 years and has been a teacher of meditation for more than 20 years.
“As a 17 year old I was a young man uncertain of my place in the world,” he said. “I struggled with trauma, I withdrew within, unable to speak to anybody.
“Then I found a book in Blackpool library on Buddhism that said suffering exists – I thought, yes I know that one – that said if you follow the Buddhist path then you can come to terms with everything in your life. I had found my path.”
Jitei started living the Dharma in 1982 at Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey, a monastery in the Zen tradition in Northumberland.
Under the guidance of Rev Master Daishin Morgan he received the Buddhist Precepts in the ceremony of Jukai.
“After many years of the stillness of meditation, of experiencing the deep joy that comes from a quiet mind and an open heart, I finally met my true teacher in Genshin Roshi of the White Plum lineage who shaved my head in the Shukke Tokudo ceremony [priest ordination].”
“It is incredible to think that I am the 83rd generation to have worn these robes, the Robe of the Buddha. Eighty-two Great Priests, spanning 2,500 years, have lived these teachings.
“From India to China, from China to Japan, from Japan to America and now to England, this lineage has seen some of the greats of Buddhism.”
Jitei, who is also a director of the Tara Centre for Peace and Reconciliation in the Storey Institute, said he eventually hopes to help launch a Zen temple in Lancaster.
He said: “I have come to teach meditation, to teach a peaceful way through life and to offer a way to show compassion to ourselves.
“My intention is to build a friendly community and a permanent Zen centre or temple.
A very important part of Jitei’s life is to offer the teaching of meditation.
Zen means ‘meditation mind’ and meditation is the heart of his practice.
He said: “On one level it is the great antidote to modern life filled with stress and worry and depression.
“On another level it offers an answer to the biggest questions like “Who am I?” or “What is life all about?”
“A life of Zen gives a great appreciation to even the smallest of things.
“The next time you eat a bar of chocolate, take time, breathe deeply, unwrap it slowly as if in ceremony and then notice how you feel, how different it tastes. This is how we treat everything in Zen; with respect.”
The ordination name Jitei means ‘compassionate gardener’.
Jitei said: “As time goes on I am interpreting it as cultivating compassion, in others and in myself, of cultivating open-ness and humility, of sharing my life as a humble monk in the service of the world, of sharing the truth that Love is the universal breath of the universe.
“We are the expression of that and meditation is the act of that love.”
Jitei added: “I would love to hear from anyone who either wants to learn meditation or who is maybe questioning themselves and their life.
“Let’s meet, who knows where it will lead. Maybe the vision will lead to a Zen Temple in Lancaster.”
Jitei can be contacted at www.jiteiwhite.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.